Seaford-based artist/activist Caroline Bond weaves discarded ghost nets and other marine debris into useful and beautiful things, posting her creations (and suggestions for living a more sustainable lifestyle) on her Instagram feed @kittiekipper.
I started the ghost net weaving after seeing some bowls from Sierra Leone that were woven from plastic bags. I’d been beach cleaning for years and I thought, ‘instead of putting this stuff in the bin, I could make things with it’. Then the supermarkets brought in the charge for plastic bags and it was amazing how quickly the bags disappeared from the beaches. But I was still finding loads of discarded ghost nets and fishing wire, so I started working with that.
The artwork is a conversation starter and an introduction to my way of thinking. I explain about the ghost nets, why I choose to use them and what damage they are doing to ocean animals. I didn’t want to just make stuff that looked nice, I wanted people to have a reaction to it and talk about the bigger picture. I started posting what I was making on Instagram but the more beach cleaning I did and the more I changed my choices, I thought it was time to start talking about that too.
I do two beach cleans a day. At Seaford Beach, Hope Gap or Tide Mills, mostly when I’m out with the dog, but I litter-pick whenever I leave the house. I find balloons on the beach every day. Many are from McDonalds or from corporate events, so I can track how far they have travelled. I’ll contact the companies but it’s very hard to speak to someone who can do anything about it. You get passed from person to person, but it all helps. It’s about constantly turning up, being present, nudging.
Beach cleaning and litter picking have changed every aspect of how I live my life. When I realised that the products I was putting in my shopping basket were reflected in the rubbish I was putting into my beach-clean bag, I realised that I needed to take responsibility for my choices as a consumer. It’s grown from there.
I’m a big advocate of menstrual products being reusable, washable or made from natural materials. I find plastic tampon applicators on the beach everyday and, despite the local sewage works telling me it’s impossible, still they are there. They could be coming from anywhere. I find shotgun cartridges from Canada, all sorts of stuff from all over the place.
Simple changes really help. Like carrying your own reusable coffee cup. If everyone did that, it would make a massive difference. Likewise, if you’re offered a plastic straw, get into the mindset of asking yourself ‘do I really need it?’ If you do, that’s fine. People don’t want to hear that they’re doing something wrong but our dependence on plastic has really snuck into our culture. Making something that we can’t get rid of and that you see discarded everywhere, it’s actually terrifying.
Watch Caroline’s talk from TEDxBrighton 2018 at ted.com